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The Corporation

Posted: 19/11/09

College wins prestigious AoC Beacon Award

West Nottinghamshire College is celebrating its latest accolade, after being named as an Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award winner.

The awards, which this year celebrate 16 years of rewarding outstanding teaching and learning in further education colleges, were announced at a ceremony hosted by comedienne and author Shappi Khorsandi at the AoC’s Annual Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, 17 November.

West Nottinghamshire College won the ‘DCSF, BIS and LSC Award for Smarter Procurement’ for delivering over £5 million worth of savings that have been re-invested in teaching and learning.

The award recognises imaginative ways in which colleges have managed their procurement activity which may contribute to re-investment in supporting students.

The college’s impressive and consistent approach to smarter procurement helped ensure it took the top prize.  The £5 million savings have been ploughed back into improving teaching resources and have resulted in better facilities for students.

One of the many ways the college has achieved sustainable savings and value has been through a procurement toolkit for staff. Working closely with suppliers has resulted in savings across a range of areas including printing, catering and transport costs.

Construction, logistics and building services students are just some of the many beneficiaries of this approach; with re-investment helping to fund the college’s state-of-the-art Construction and Logistics Skills Academy in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. The £8.2 million academy boasts some of the best facilities in the sector including ‘lecturette’ areas where tutors mix theoretical teaching with hands-on practice.

The savings also helped create the college’s Ashfield Centre, which provides vocational programmes for teenagers that would not otherwise be in education, employment or training.

The UK-wide Beacon Awards provide national recognition for excellence and innovation as well as acknowledging the talents of staff at all levels. They highlight the breadth and quality of education in the college sector.

Asha Khemka OBE, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said:  “I’m delighted that our strategic approach to procurement has been recognised with this highly-prestigious national award. Re-investing the money we save on goods and services back into teaching and learning means our students enjoy some of the best educational facilities in the country.

“It’s never been more important for public sector organisations to make efficiency savings and I’m proud that our college is leading the way.”

Angie Pilgrim, procurement manager, said: “It’s an honour that the Beacon assessors recognised that through our innovative systems and procedures we have been able to promote leading procurement practices.

"This, together with a programme of robust tendering activity, has enabled us to secure and sustain real cost and efficiency savings which enhance the learner experience.”

Awards chair, Dame Patricia Morgan-Webb, said: “Beacon winners blaze a trail in finding new ways of doing things; they contribute to social justice and are instrumental in local economic and social regeneration, essential during these turbulent times. Whilst the winners this year are located all across the UK, what they all share are the key traits of innovation, creativity, responsiveness and a collaborative approach.

“I am delighted on behalf of the AoC Charitable Trust to reward the contribution that these colleges make; they are the pillars of our communities.”

The college will be presented with its award by the Rt. Hon. Kevin Brennan MP, Minister of State for Further Education, at a national presentation ceremony due to be held at Westminster in February 2010.